Ankeny’s biggest summer celebration — SummerFest — is back this year July 10-13. This year’s event has been organized and put on by the Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce with support from presenting sponsor Karl Chevrolet and platinum sponsors the City of Ankeny, Ankeny Community School District and the Ankeny Jaycees. The festivities include parades, competitions, entertainment, food and lots of fun. It’s a great time to reconnect with old friends and neighbors — and meet new ones. So round up the family, head on over to the Prairie Ridge complex and don’t miss a single event.
SummerFest co-chair and Chamber president Kim Schaaf got involved with the event about seven years ago after having such a great time attending since she moved to Ankeny. Her co-chair is Todd Wehr, and both promise tons of fun with some surprises this year.
The theme for SummerFest 2014 is Blast Off. Schaaf says this year there will be several upgrades and new things that are sure to please. One is the new stage for all the bands. It will be larger and up higher so everyone will be able to see better as they rock out.
This year also features new bands and local favorite Standing Hampton on Saturday. On Thursday check out Decoy. On Friday, Pie in the Sky will play. On Saturday, Casey Muessigmann from “The Voice” opens for Standing Hampton, and Sunday Brian Holtz Band wraps things up.
Another fun new addition to SummerFest this year is the Iowa Craft Beer tent. The beer truck taps 24 kegs of Iowa beer, and it has a loyal following of beer aficionados.
“We hope to bring in some new people because they know craft beer will be here,” Schaaf says. “We want to stay on the cutting edge, and people have been asking for this.”
The fireworks show will also be blasting off this year in an even bigger way than ever before. Schaaf says the committee got feedback that people were disappointed in the fireworks show last year, so this year they’re making big upgrades.
“We’re spending a lot more money this year and not only going to have a better show, but it will be longer,” she says. “It will just be bigger and better than it’s been in a long time.”
With all the improvements, organizers are happy to kick things off on Thursday night with the SummerFest 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament, back for its sixth year. The outdoor tournament played at Ashland Ridge Elementary will have games played to 11 points by ones or a 20-minute time limit. The tournament is open to fifth-sixth graders and seventh-eighth graders competing in two groups by age. The tournament is double elimination; teams will be guaranteed two games. Cost is $25 per team.
The carnival will open at 5 p.m. Thursday night, and vendors will also open at 5 p.m. Hang out and enjoy Decoy in the leisure garden starting at 7:30 p.m.
Friday is packed full of events, including the Ankeny alumni golf tournament at 8:30 a.m. at Otter Creek golf course and the alumni banquet that evening. The four-person best shot tournament fee is $70 per person and includes cart, 18 holes, lunch, gifts and flight prizes.
The banquet will be held at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Church and features catered Hickory Park barbecue. Check-in begins at 5 p.m., and dinner is at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.ankenyalumni.org to register.
One of the most adorable parts of SummerFest, the kiddie parade, takes place on Friday evening. Kids ages 01-12 are welcome to head on out to Uptown Ankeny for the parade. Children can bring wagons, in-line skates and bikes. Line up begins at 6 p.m., and the parade begins at 6:30 p.m.
The men’s slow pitch softball tournament also kicks off Friday night from 6-10 p.m. The fee of $185 per team includes 14 drink tickets. All city league teams and ASA classified C, D and E teams are welcome. Twenty teams will play in two divisions with a three-game guarantee on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Ankeny Voice karaoke contest is also lots of Friday night fun at Prairie Ridge stadium at 7 p.m. Come check out the best Ankeny singers in this contest for ages 14 and up. Kids in grades six-nine can head over to Cascade Falls for the Splash Dance from 8-10 p.m. Cost is $7, and season passes will be honored.
While the kids party at the pool, the grown-ups can check out the leisure garden to enjoy the sounds of Pie in the Sky. The carnival will also be in full swing Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Starting bright and early on Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. is PancakeFest sponsored by the Ankeny Kiwanis Club. The breakfast will be at the Ankeny Band shell again this year to make it easier for parade goers to get all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage. If your group has a spot picked out on the parade route, you can even send one person to pick up breakfast to go for everyone. Cost is $5 per person; kids 3 and younger are free. PancakeFest is a fundraiser for Ankeny Kiwanis with proceeds going to service projects including Ankeny Miracle League/All-Inclusive Playground. For additional information, visit www.ankenykiwanis.org.
Then it’s time for one of the biggest spectacles of the weekend — the grand parade at 9 a.m. This year’s theme is Blast Off, and all are welcome to participate. Parade entries are also judged on style and creativity, so decorate your entry to reflect the theme. This year no candy will be thrown from the parade entries, but never fear. Walkers will be handing out plenty to everyone along the parade route.
After the parade, check out the SummerFest Free BBQ presented by the Ankeny Area Democrats at Hawkeye Park Shelter, just off Ash Drive. Join in for good food, good conversation, live music and political speakers.
Saturday afternoon is chock full of events — a pie and ice cream social fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity, co-ed sand volleyball tournament, the bean bag tournament and a kickball tournament.
One of the most popular events of SummerFest, the Cardboard Boat Regatta, is Saturday at Northview Lake at 2 p.m. The challenge is to design and build a person-powered corrugated cardboard boat that is capable of racing — or at least floating. Teams are divided by age and prizes will be awarded for the winners, most creative boat and the most notable sinking “Titanic” award. Don’t miss this opportunity to watch friends and neighbors test their homemade boats. Costumes, decorations and a cheering section are encouraged. Entry fee is $10.
Ankeny Free Church will again be sponsoring the “Soak up the Son” contemporary Christian band blast at the band shell at 6 p.m. The event is family-friendly and open to all. Organizers encourage people to bring lawn chairs and blankets and enjoy great sounds after a busy day.
Saturday evening at 7 p.m., check out the Miss 16 Contest at Prairie Ridge Stadium. The contest is only open to girls who are/were 16 during the year. There are three category winners this year: Miss Scholastic, Miss Photogenic and Miss Community. Join us as we crown Miss 16 2014. There will be a $2 admittance fee.
Saturday’s leisure garden entertainment is opener Casey Muessigmann of “The Voice” season three followed by local favorite Standing Hampton.
But be ready to rise and shine bright and early, as Sunday morning features the Optimist Club of Ankeny’s SummerFest 5K and one-mile walk/run and Hawk Trot. The 5K will kick off at 7:45 a.m. with the one-mile run following at 9:15. Little Hawks ages 1-9 are invited to trot after the one-mile walk, at approximately 9:45 a.m.
Bikers are also welcome to attend the 24th “Cycle For Sight” bike ride with registration from 7-8 a.m. in front of the Ankeny Family YMCA facility. Riders will have three ride routes from which to choose. All routes are located in northern-eastern Polk County. Routes consist of a 20-mile fun ride, a more rigorous 45 -mile ride route and a RAGBRAI warm-up route of 65 miles.
All routes contain rest stops where fruit and beverages are provided. Routes are patrolled, and SAG wagon service is available for those needing assistance. The cost is $25 for individuals and $35 for families.
Then it’s time for the annual community church service at 10 a.m. at the band shell. This year’s service is hosted by Lutheran Church of Hope, and all are welcome to attend.
The afternoon features some great SummerFest events including the popular Corks & Caps: Iowa Wine and Craft Beer Festival from 1-4 p.m. Tickets must be purchased to enter, but once inside visitors may sample as many beverages as they choose. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate. This event is held in the Leisure Garden area of the SummerFest grounds.
On Sunday evening, the Bill Riley State Fair Talent Show begins at 7 p.m., and the leisure garden entertainment will be Brian Holtz Band. Stick around for a fireworks display that is sure to be spectacular.
“SummerFest is such a wonderful tradition in the city of Ankeny, and people love to come,” Schaaf says. “All the favorites like the cardboard boat regatta and parade will all still be happening, and we’re just trying to improve it every year to give people something new to look forward to. It’s just getting bigger and better.”
For the latest information on all SummerFest has to offer, check out http://www.ankenysummerfest.org. Registration information is included for each event.